Lady Lions Stumble Again With 19-Point Loss To Wisconsin
The Lady Lions dropped yet another game in what’s quickly becoming a season to forget, losing their fifth straight to Wisconsin, 65-46, on Tuesday night in Madison to remain winless in the Big Ten.
Led by leading scorer Lindsey Spann, the Lady Lions (3-12, 0-4 B1G) took a 26-24 lead into halftime as the redshirt freshman contributed a team-high eight points on 4-of-12 shooting in the opening frame. Despite the team shooting a frigid 35.5 percent from the field and making just 1-of-5 attempts from three, sophomores Jenny DeGraaf and Peyton Whitted shot an efficient 4-of-6 off the bench and contributed a collective nine points to help Penn State maintain a slim lead. But it was Wisconsin’s Jacki Gulczynski who would steal the show, shooting a perfect 3-of-3 from downtown and 2-of-2 from the charity stripe in the first half to keep the Badgers within one possession.
After shooting a disappointing 28.6 percent (8-of-28) in the opening twenty minutes, Wisconsin stormed out of the locker room, using a 16-0 run early in the second half to bury Penn State for good. The Badgers shot at a much-improved 46.7 percent clip following the break, while Penn State’s already cold shooting dipped to an abysmal 24.1 percent, finishing the game with a sub-30 percent mark that falls close to 10 points off last season’s average.
Spann continues to be the lone bright spot this season, building upon her impressive résumé by leading the Lady Lions in points for the 11th time this season, and reaching double figures (13) for the 14th time in 15 games to go along with four rebounds, three assists, and a pair of steals. Junior center Candice Agee added nine points, seven rebounds, two blocks and two steals, while DeGraaf finished with seven points in sixteen minutes off of the bench. But it wasn’t enough to stop Wisconsin’s Jackie Gulczynski, as the hot-shooting All-Big Ten honorable mention led all scorers with 23 points, including six three-pointers.
The double-digit loss is part of an alarming trend for Penn State against Big Ten opponents. In four conference games this season, the average margin of defeat is just under 24 points.
Following the loss of star players like Maggie Lucas and Ariel Edwards, as well as key contributors like Talia East and Dara Taylor, it’s not hard to realize why this year’s squad hasn’t been able to find a winning formula. But to see a team that has consistently been atop the Big Ten standings, capturing three straight regular season titles from 2011-2014 while earning back-to-back trips to the Sweet 16, fall so far hard and so fast is perplexing.
Just for reference, at this time last season, Penn State was ranked No. 15 in the Top 25, and had just defeated No. 22 Iowa on the road to claim a victory in its conference opener. With the Lady Lions dropping to 0-4 in the Big Ten, the 2014-15 team has already equaled the number of conference losses from last year’s team. The 12 losses this season is already four more than all of last year – with 14 games still remaining.
While the Lady Lions were expected to stumble, I don’t think anyone thought they would fall quite this hard.
The Lady Lions are back in action on Saturday at noon in the BJC looking for their first conference win when 10-4 Rutgers comes to town.